I will agree that last week one of the pictures did make it look like a ladybird. It was actually a butterfly - a Small Tortoiseshell. This was correctly guessed by Jan and Ragged Robin who gain the virtual gold stars with an honourable mention to TexWisGirl and Adrian who got the butterfly but the wrong type. As always my thanks to all who took part.
On to a new 'macro', actually a small crop from a larger photograph.
Clue: Penny says it grunts instead of snuffling.
No prizes. Just for fun.
This morning I could see five eggs in the Great Tit nestbox. There will probably be one or two more then Mrs GT should start incubating them. That will be more interesting to watch, especially as they start to hatch and the male brings in food for all of them. At the moment it seems to be an empty nest for most of the day.
On the Hedgehog front - The regular, I assume, visited the night before last but was not spotted last night. Also it looks as though a mouse has taken up residence under the summer house, or at least uses it as a safe haven at night for raiding the hedgehog food.
Four eggs so far in the nestbox. They are not being incubated yet so the Great Tit leaves the nest for long periods.
Finally found out how to get Camstreams to work through my router. It can take up to 15 seconds for the stream to start. Works for me in Opera, IE and Firefox! Also works on some Macs and with Chrome. Windows Media Player or VLC plugin needed.
As it uses Windows Media Player it looks like the video cannot be seen on an iPad using the available browsers - certainly not on those I tried today - Camstreams are developing a free app for iPhone / iPad. Hopefully this will be available in the not too distant future and will let you know when it is available.
I am very grateful to Camstreams for providing this free service advert free.
Clicking on their link at the bottom of the streaming video window takes you to their site where you can find a few more animal related streams amongst other things.
The test was running for about 12 hours and all seemed OK so I have put the streaming window at the top of the blog so it is always available though I do not guarantee that it will always be live. Sometimes, with my poor bandwith on uploads, I have to pause or stop it to allow other uploads of video files or photos. It will only run when my PC is on during the day (approximately 7am to 10pm British Summer Time).
I haven't noticed a Hedgehog this week. This happens sometimes. It might be the usual route has been blocked by something so it takes a while to find another way. This photo was taken about ten days ago. I just managed the one shot before it made a dash for cover.
As usual I added a pack of strawberries to my delivery from Asda. First lucky thing was the usual £1 pack I ordered was out of stock so a £2 pack was sent but only charged at £1. They were quite a mix of sizes but by far the monster of the batch was this one photographed next to a 10p coin which measures 22mm across (just under an inch).
These strawberries came from Spain and were reasonably tasty.
When I was teaching in Primary School my favourite nature lesson was one where the children worked in small groups of 3 or 4, each group having their own square metre of ground to explore for minibeasts. All those small creatures which hide in holes and under things. This morning when I was tidying up the part of the garden next to the summerhouse I moved a small pile of old bricks. As there were several minibeasts using them as a home I grabbed the laptop and the endoscope to see what I could record:
I need the practice in keeping the little camera still and far enough away for things to stay in focus - 60mm or more. With small creatures it is tempting to get too close, also the laptop screen was very hard to see in the brilliant sunshine. I will have to think of some form of sunshade for it - possibly a cardboard box on its side might do the job.
A full house for last week's Guess What. Congratulations and a virtual gold star to TexWisGirl, Bonnie, Adrian and Shirley who all correctly identify a bird feather. I have no idea which bird shed it except that it was a small one.
A different way of presenting this week's puzzle object. Today I found an interesting free iPhone app - SymbolGram - which will work on the iPad though the results are low quality. The app can use all sorts of shapes to mask photos. There are over one hundred to choose from. Photos can be rotated and resized, text can be added as can a few choices of background colour. I hope that an iPad HD version will be made as I found it real fun to use. The app is supported by advertising at the bottom of the screen and doesn't seem too distracting.
Anyway - here are a few different views of the same creature as produced in the app.
Guess What sort of creature I have hidden:
The first full post completed on the laptop. How nice to be able to compute and take in some fresh air at the same time. Lovely to sit here and listen to all the bird song.
Things keep catching me by surprise this Spring so I shouldn't have been surprised to see tadpoles swimming around this morning. These are from a batch of frog spawn I transferred from the pond to the 'nursery pool' a few days ago.:
The video was taken with an endoscope camera hand held just above the water surface. Low quality as it only has 300K pixels but it is small, waterproof, has 4 LED lights built in, focuses from 6cm to infinity, plugs in a USB port and has a 7m cable. Another reason I wanted a laptop - hopefully to be able to get some underwater video in the pond.
Frosty start to the day but once the Sun got its act together things began to look up. Afternoon temperature reached near 16C which was a nice change. I spotted several butterflies, a large yellow one when we out walk-about at lunch time. Probably a Brimstone. Quite a few Peacocks fluttering round the garden. A little video clip I managed to get with the Nikon. The same short bit shown three times:
As you will have noticed I am using Vimeo at the moment. I find that uploads to YouTube are extremely slow and can take two hours for a small file only to be told there was an error and nothing got uploaded. Vimeo is fast to upload but a free account then has a 45min delay before it is processed, but at least I know it has arrived safely.
Oh - and these are the first files I have processed and uploaded using the laptop and Windozy 7. It is not such a big leap from XP as I thought it would be. In some ways friendlier but too nagging in others. I probably haven't found the right settings yet.
Now I'm tearing what is left of my hair out with Vodafone as their site update seems to have screwed up my account. Had to have the account scrubbed and re-register but now waiting for it to fully update. Will know in an hour or two.
Wow. It's a week or so since I last checked the nest box so it came as a surprise this morning to see how busy Mrs Great Tit has been in that time. It looks as though the nest is finished and contains what appears to me to be two eggs so far.
One of the final jobs in the summerhouse was to provide power. To that end I installed a couple of double sockets - you can never have too many.
One of my most useful buys for checking the wiring of mains sockets is a little tester. Plug it in and if all three lights illuminate all is well. Any other combination of lights will indicate what is wrong with the wiring.
The yellow cable is Arctic Cable, suitable for outdoor use down to something like -20C. It travels outside to the shed where it plugs in an RCD socket fed from the shed's main fuse box.
Another recent useful buy, for me anyway, was a packet of two large cloths for cleaning screens on tablets, computers, tvs, etc. Also good with spectacles and said to be usable on lenses. The latter I haven't tried as yet. They are not the cheapest of cloths but they seem to do an excellent job very quickly.
I had read some excellent reviews of 'Mobile Cloth' and they seem to live up to the job. As usual I bought mine on Amazon where they are available in a couple of sizes. As always your mileage may vary. I just report things which work well for me.
Why is it always dull when I see something interesting, to me anyway, I want to photograph? A couple of grainy photos of infrequent visitors to my garden feeders, a Greenfinch and a female Blackcap on the same feeder:
The Blackcap is a fleeting visitor who will probably move on soon. Greenfinch numbers have suffered greatly in this area with many succumbing to finch disease over the past three years.
The laptop duly arrived on time. It is hard to believe it is second hand, not a mark on it. Soon had it logged in to my wireless network and tried out in the summerhouse. Much to my relief it worked perfectly:
Some things I like the iPad for but for browsing / surfing I find a 10 inch screen is too small. Now I am grappling and coming to terms with Windozy 7 as my main PC is still using XP. One of the reasons, besides cost, for buying s/h was that most new ones I was interested in now seem to have Windozy 8 loaded and I have no interest in that. I might have been tempted to go for a Mac of some sort but even used ones seem to cost the earth.
A few signs of Spring - finally there is frog spawn in the pond:
My primulas are flowering, when the ungrateful birds stop pulling them up and today I had the first wasp indoors. I killed a couple today. They were both very dopey and lethargic so I guess they had recently become active. The more early ones I can dispatch the fewer nests there will be later in the year.
Just the two correct answers for the last Guess What. Congratulations and virtual gold stars go to TexWisGirl and Jan for identifying part of a belt. Could definitely be an embarrassing drop without it.
The little summer house is very nearly finished and ready for occupation. Just a few bits of tarting up to do. Also waiting for the first decent rain to see whether there are any leaks which need seeing to.
Not a very inspiring view but I positioned it so I could see the pond waterfall (in front of the blue water barrels) where birds like to bathe. They don't notice me in there so I should get some decent photographs later in the year.
This morning was fraught - not a lot new there then. I want to be able to use the iPad and a cheap s/h laptop I have ordered while in the summer house. My wireless router doesn't have a strong enough signal to reach outside so I bought a Netgear WiFi Range Extender (WN3000RP) from Amazon. The idea being to have that in the kitchen to boost the signal outdoors. It arrive this morning and I spent hours trying to get the thing to work. It would connect to the router but nothing would connect to it. In the end I phoned the Netgear 24/7 support line (an 0844 number so that cost me money!). It took 40 minutes to set things up but in the end it was worth it as all seems to be working perfectly now. Just hope the laptop connects OK when it arrives. I must say that I was very pleased with the support person who was patient, friendly and knowledgeable. I was quite surprised when I asked him where he was and found that support is in the Philippines. Netgear support is free for 90 days and from this experience I would describe it as superb.
First - apologies for not giving the answer to the previous Guess What yet. It's been a busy few days. As Sunday was such a good day I decided to start erecting the little summer house. I found it is possible for one person to do the job though the time taken is much longer than advertised and it wouldn't be much shorter with two people. Mind you it wasn't helped by having the wrong pack of bits and pieces. Nothing new there then! Monday was bitterly cold but I plodded on with the job, as I did yesterday. Now there are just a few finishing touches needed to complete the job. One thing I did find out - now I've reached three score and ten years my joints complain a lot more when subjected to constant bending and stretching.
The summer house is built on the small paved area where the hedgehogs used to feed so I wondered how they would get on. They have a couple of slabs next to the patio and seem to have found the food with no problems. I left the recorder running last night and was surprised this morning when I checked for any activity to see the mating ritual had started. As usual the male's idea of a chat up line is to charge at the female in an attempt to mate with her. This can go on for hours, night after night, until she is ready. Until the female is ready and lowers her spines it is a prickly encounter for the male.
The slabs aren't sloping - just the crazy angle I had to put the camera to cover the scene.
I'll give the answer to the previous Guess What next Monday.
I always seem to be looking at and photographing trees from a distance. For a change today I decided to stand under them and point the camera up to the sky. I used the Nikon S9050 on its widest view. Some I couldn't get really close to as there were ditches in the way. No telling until I got home exactly how they would turn out as it wasn't possible to see the LCD screen while taking the shots.
Maybe I should call them a Squirrel's Eye View:
B/W shots (taken by accident as the awkward way of holding the camera in one hand meant I kept catching the menu change by accident):
A couple of really nice looking days with blue sky and white clouds. Yesterday the wind dropped enough to enjoy a walk for once in spite of a 6C temperature. We took a couple of public footpaths we haven't used for a while. In the afternoon we had to wait in one narrow lane while the council were repairing potholes in the road so I watched the activity in what looked to be a home made beehive. Plenty of activity in spite of the low temperature.
Walking down one of our usual tracks I could admire the blue sky while madam enjoyed all the interesting odours.
That was the only time I felt cold as the breeze was blowing straight down the lane.
Home, a cup of char and then out with the mower to give the grass its first trim of the year. Not too low a cut as the mornings are still frosty.
Blue sky again today but the wind was stronger giving the feeling of being more than a bit cold. Looking at the local news for this area the local weatherman says that for central England, March was the coldest since 1892 - yes eighteen ninety two. Central England has the world's oldest temperature data set, dating back to 1659. Things are supposed to be looking up next week. Should have warmer temps nearer the seasonal average, but changeable weather - that means rain. Total rainfall measured here for February was 32mm and for March 38mm and the lawn has only just dried out.